THE departure of Nicola Cortese, until yesterday executive chairman of Southampton Football Club, will no doubt bring mixed emotions.

On the one hand there is no doubt the Italian banker rubbed some up the wrong way with his business-like manner and ruthless approach to hiring and firing.

However, few could deny that under his leadership the club, languishing in the First Division – the dormer Third Division in reality – when he took over has flourished.

Although the promise of this season’s amazing start has now given way to an acceptable but nevertheless mid-table position as the football calendar enters its last few months, theirs has been a meteoric rise.

It is true that much of the success of the club must be put down to the financial support of the Liebherr family. But if this team and club they now control is a different prospect to the one Markus Leibherr bought just three years ago it is Mr Cortese’s determination that has achieved this.

The fans, sometimes reluctantly, recognised this. And although at times Mr Cortese was no friend to this newspaper, the Daily Echo also recognised his worth.

It is pity that such a formidable character in the life of the city did not play a more inclusive role in its wider body.